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A world class guitar hero, a Grammy-nominated songwriter and composer, an international recording artist with over 35 acclaimed solo albums to date, and a soundtrack composer for film and television, GARY LUCAS is on the move in 2020. He has recorded over 30 acclaimed albums in a variety of genres—jazz, rock, classical, folk, blues and world music—and has performed in over 40 countries to date. He has received many honors and awards—including being invited to perform solo before the General Assembly of the UN on January 27th 2017 to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day. He was also recently profiled on National Public Radio (NPR).
Dubbed "The Thinking Man's Guitar Hero" by The New Yorker, "The world's most popular avant-rock guitarist" by The Independent (UK), "One of the 100 Greatest Living Guitarists" (Classic Rock), "Legendary Leftfield guitarist" by The Guardian (UK), "Guitarist of 1000 Ideas" by The New York Times, "a true axe God" by Melody Maker, and "One of the five best guitarists in the world" by the national Czech newspaper Lidove Noviny; the British world music magazine fRoots recently described Gary Lucas as "without question, the most innovative and challenging guitarist playing today." Rolling Stone's David Fricke wrote: "Gary Lucas is one of the best and most original guitarists in America...a modern guitar miracle." Best-selling author/producer Dan Levitin ("This Is Your Brain On Music") recently cited Gary as "the greatest living electric guitarist". Gary was also dubbed "one of the world's greatest guitar players" by HITS Magazine. Pete Frame, music journalist, founder/editor of legendary UK music magazine ZigZag, and author/creator of 5 volumes of "Rock Family Trees" said of Gary, "Can there be another musician as adventurous, ingenious, accomplished, diverse, intrepid, hard-working and well-travelled as Gary Lucas?"
Quotable quotes about Gary Lucas:
"You're a phenomenal guitarist" —Bruce Springsteen
"Man can play guitar!" —Captain Beefheart
"I could listen to you play for hours, Gary...beyond cool" —Lou Reed
"An incredible guitarist" —Nick Cave
"Man, you were really wailing!" —Leonard Bernstein
"One of the best and most original guitarists in America...a modern guitar miracle" —Rolling Stone
"The Thinking Man's Guitar Hero…an A-list musician" —The New Yorker
"One of the 100 Greatest Living Guitarists" —Classic Rock Magazine
"One of the world's greatest guitarists" —HITS Magazine
"Legendary left-field guitarist" —The Guardian
"Gary Lucas plays guitar like Salvador Dali paints...guitarist with a global beat." —New York Times
"Can there be another musician as adventurous, ingenious, accomplished, diverse, intrepid, hard-working and well-travelled as Gary Lucas?" —Pete Frame, music journalist, founder/editor of legendary UK music magazine ZigZag, and author/creator of 5 volumes of "Rock Family Trees"
2021 finally saw the release of Gary's 40-year retrospective double album THE ESSENTIAL GARY LUCAS on Knitting Factory Records, after many delays in the previous year due to the pandemic. The critical response to date to the compilation has been tremendous, with 3 high-profile reviews in the UK:
"Extraordinary 2-CD retrospective"
"The elegance of the phrasing, the ubiquity of call and response figures, (another connection to Miles Davis), the ability to fit almost sonic environment is quite uncanny...there isn't a single item here that doesn't have Lucas's musical personality running through it like quartz. Essential? It's all essential."
"A testament to the man's restless energy and imagination."
The excellent media coverage continued with an hour-plus appearance on legendary music critic David Fricke's show "The Writer's Block" on the SIRIUS XM radio Feb. 10th, and an interview in Aquarium Drunkard. Gary was Artist of the Week in the second week of February on WPKN in Bridgeport Conn where his track "King Strong" rose to #3 Favorite Track of the Week—check out the video here. Gary also made the cover of the UK's Rock's Back Pages website. More stellar reviews of THE ESSENTIAL GARY LUCAS included 4.5 out of 5 Stars in American Songwriter Magazine, a rave in the Netherland's OOR Magazine, the Rolling Stone of Holland, and a lengthy profile in two parts in ReportersOnline entitled "Gary Lucas: The Man, His Guitar and the World"—Part One (English translation) and Part Two (English translation). In Italy, one of the most popular countries for Gary Lucas, Gary was asked to write an article for Italian Rolling Stone entitled "La Via Mia in 10 Canzoni" (Gary Lucas: My Life in 10 Songs) (English translation). Gary was also interviewed on Italian national radio Controradio Firenze and was played in regular rotation on Rai Radio 3's "Battisti" program. More excellent reviews included 4 out of 5 Stars in Jazzwise (UK), 4 out of 5 Hooks in Off the Hook, 10 out of 10 in Take Effect, and 5 out of 5 in The Inconsistent Jukebox. There was a lengthy new interview in the Rolling Stone of Spain, Ruta 66 (Spain), a rave review at Beefheart.com, and an interview in The Oakland Press. Several new clips for the retrospective album include "Out From Under" featuring Haydee and Suylen Milanes and Los Van Van, "Follow" created by Mexican animation whizzes Nadia and Anahi Rubalcava, "After Strange Gods", "Flavor Bud Living", and the latest clip, a Mandarin version of Bob Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" translated and sung by Feifei Yang. On Chinese New Year Feb. 12th after both getting tested Gary and Feifei streamed a special hour long concert of their Edge of Heaven Chinese show for the Queens Public Library in Astoria. And on Feb. 15th the duo made an appearance at the American Dream Mall in New Jersey backed by the Asian Cultural Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Stephen Yang. On the occasion of Don Van Viet (Captain Beefheart)'s birthday Jan. 15th, PleaseKillMe.com published a reminiscence by Gary of working with Don and the pair's close encounters with Frank Zappa.
2020 began on a bright note for Gary with a high-profile appearance at the legendary Anthology Film Archives in NYC, performing a live solo score at a tribute to the recently departed founder and avatar of experimental film Jonas Mekas, on a bill with special guests Jim Jarmusch, Ed Sanders (The Fugs), and Richard Barone. This was followed by a solo show at Joe's Pub at the Public Theater in Manhattan billed as "Gary Lucas and Frenz", which featured his Gods and Monsters band (Ernie Brooks, Billy Ficca and Jason Candler) plus special guests vocalists Feifei Yang and Anna Podolak. Gary then journeyed to Ithaca NY in early March for a sold-out performance with "The Golem" at Cornell University, which would prove to be his last out of town gig before the pandemic lockdown of the US began mid-March. In lieu of all of his live shows being postponed both domestically and internationally, Gary began doing thrice a week solo concerts live streaming from his apartment on Facebook every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 3:00pm EDT, which has attracted a worldwide audience. They are all archived here and are continuously updated. Gary's live streaming shows were singled out for praise by Ben Sisario in the Sunday New York Times Arts and Leisure section, and he was interviewed about live streaming in New York State Music. In late October 2020 Gary was invited with the authorization of the Dutch government to play the "So What's Next Festival" in Eindhoven Netherlands with his live solo score accompanying the legendary Spanish "Dracula" on Halloween, and also a new duo project with Dutch acoustic bassist and singer Peter Willems. Lucas successfully overrode the travel ban on Americans during the pandemic to journey to the Netherlands, the first country in Europe to get behind his music in a big way, and his shows were live-streamed on social media from the Eindhoven Muziekgebouw. While in the Netherlands he recorded a new album with Peter Willems scheduled for 2021 release. In January 2021, Knitting Factory Records will release a 40 year double CD retrospective album of Gary's work "The Essential Gary Lucas", which received an early writeup in Broadway World and advance praise in Guitar World (part 1 and part 2), Premier Guitar, the Sydney Morning Herald, Eighth Day (Ireland), and Dancing About Architecture (UK). Also see recent interviews in The Quietus (UK) and The Forward, and check out Gary's Pandemic Top 10 Albums. In 2020 Gary also started writing semi-regularly for the music and culture website PleaseKillMe.com—contributing an article about the death of Brian Jones, the life of Peter Green, and a new biography of Malcolm McLaren.
Gary Lucas makes his home in NYC.
With U.S. Consul General in Milan Phillip Reeker at a reception at his residence sponsored by the U.S. Consulate in Milan 3/21/15
photo by Simonetta Romagnolo
Gary Lucas Live at the Monk Club Rome Italy with The Niro 12/27/19
photo copyright Mario Rimati
Gary Lucas at the sold-out London Tribute to Jeff Buckley 9/9/17
photo by Michael Arkk
Gary Lucas Live at the Monk Club Rome Italy with The Niro 12/27/19
photo copyright Mario Rimati
Gary Lucas performs solo acoustic before the General Assembly of the UN for International Holocaust Remembrance Day 1/27/17
photo by Jason Candler
Piazza Venezia in Rome 12/17/18
photo by David Combusti
Gary Lucas in Shanghai 11/9/16